"What I'm trying to show my girls in this project is that, if you're not currently in a leadership role, you can find your own path, your own platform, and go for it."
And Esperance Senior High School's Girl's Leadership Project coordinator Julie Hawke is doing exactly that.
The ever-evolving program, established several years ago, runs as an option for students during school time and focuses on addressing health, wellbeing, leadership and resilience with young women.
Each session begins with mindfulness, emotional regulation and mindful practice before the group focus on their upcoming projects, the latest of which will include hosting the second event for the Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry's newly established Women's Leadership Network.
As part of the launch of the network, Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Sussan Ley spoke at length about her experiences as a young woman entering the workforce and the many hurdles she faced.
This second event will be held on Thursday, March 28, from 11am until 1pm at the Esperance Public Library and will highlight the achievements of women, discuss barriers for women in the workplace and also look at strategies for overcoming those barriers.
"In term 1, our focus is always on International Women's Day and, as part of that, we attending the launch of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry's new Women's Leadership Network," Mrs Hawke said.
"I was really excited to see that Esperance was pursuing that.
"I talked to the girls at the school who were involved in our week-long campaign, and they were really excited about being able to run a forum themselves.
"We're going to celebrate the achievements of one of our year 12 students, Casey Rowe.
"She has developed her own product and has started up her own small business so we're going to celebrate her courage and her entrepreneurship.
"We have two other guest speakers, both of whom are leaders in our school, who are going to be talking about the challenges they've experienced during their career and how they overcame those.
"The girls will be running the event and we will also partner with Chris Pope at Professionals to auction off a student's artwork, with proceeds going to the project.
"It will be really fun and I really encourage everyone to come, all of the women in leadership roles as well as aspirant women."
I'm really grateful for it [the program], for everything it has taught us and everything it continues to teach us.Esperance Senior High School's Girl's Leadership Project member Jess Smith.
Students Gabby Botha, Alanna Foster and Jess Smith said they were eager to host the event, praising the program for having boosted their confidence and motivated them to share what they had gained with those around them.
Having only joined the project two weeks ago, 14-year-old Gabby said she had already experienced the benefits.
"I've met so many great girls here and it makes a tough time so much easier to handle," she said.
"Having this group has allowed me to really be myself and we feel really fortunate to have this space.
"It's been really positive, I've learned a lot and I've grown as a person.
"Julie does a lot for us and we really do appreciate it."
Fellow student Jess echoed Gabby's sentiments, and said she was grateful for everything the program had taught her.
"I have been involved since last year, when I was invited to go on the camp," she said.
"I like to hang out here a lot because it's so positive, especially if you're having a bad day.
"The program is all about bettering yourself and helping those around you.
"I'm really grateful for it [the program], for everything it has taught us and everything it continues to teach us.
"Julie has been amazing.
"Without her, we wouldn't have this program."
Mrs Hawke said she had also noticed the difference in the students involved in the program, including greater confidence and improved attendance at school.
Mrs Hawke said the project was very peer-led, with the girls coaching one another.
"For me, I can see improvements in attendance at school, they talk about that room space being a motivator to come to school," she said.
"They understand that, if things aren't working out for them at school, they have their own space to come to that belongs to them.
"They feel in control there, it's safe.
"To give you an example, we had a year 10 student last year that was extremely shy and had low attendance was part of the program.
"Her attendance doubled, she was successful in her interview process for a VET program and it gave her enough confidence to then apply for a specialist art school.
"She's no longer at our school, but she sent me a message the other day to let me know that she had performed a verbal presentation for her new classmates and she has never done that in her entire school life.
"I believe it's really important that, as older women, we take a young woman with us at every chance, every meeting, every moment where decisions are being made.
"It's really important for us to mentor a younger woman and let her see that it's possible for one woman's voice to be a part of change."
For more information about the Esperance Women's Leadership Network events, contact Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Kylie Ryan on 9071 5142 or email firstname.lastname@example.org